Someone saved my life tonight
You're a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, fly high
-Elton John, "Someone Saved My Life Tonight"
One year ago today, my son had open heart surgery. One year ago today, we celebrated the fact that he came through surgery without complication. One year ago today, I breathed a sigh of relief and said prayers of gratitude that he was going to be okay.
Little Rocky knows he's got to learn to fight big battles
Then one year ago tonight, my world turned upside down. To say that he nearly died simply doesn't do justice what happened to him that night. He died. His heart stopped beating on its own and he stopped breathing. For an hour and a half. His life was saved because some amazing doctors and nurses rushed to his side and pounded on his chest, performing CPR until he could be placed on life support. For over an hour and half. While Derek watched just a few feet away from the chaos.
The things I remember of that night are like photographs that can't be erased. Running onto the floor of his hospital, down to his room, the eerie quiet of a hospital in the middle of the night. I can still see through the window to his room as the charge nurse, Kim, did chest compressions. The nurse caring for the patient next door who brought me a warm blanket - I could pick her out of a lineup to this day even though she was never our nurse. The necklace that Dr. Barbara Jo was wearing with little baby shoes on it. The bags and bags of trash that housekeeping cleared out before they would let us in. As they unwrapped drug after drug and tool after tool and sterile instruments for surgery, all that stuff got tossed on the floor, and it was literally ankle deep all around the room. The blood, my baby's blood, spattered everywhere. The cap Dr. Hanna was wearing as he wheeled him off to the cath lab. The way Dr. Hanna took his cow lovey from me, rubbed it gently, and tucked it under Jay's arm. The desperate way I cried over and over again, "Dear God, please save him. Please help him." The heart-shaped tiles on the floor of the hall. I can see it all so clearly, as if I'm sitting here looking at it right now.
I'm told that the horror of that night will start to fade. It hasn't yet - in fact, I feel this pit in my stomach just writing about it and allowing myself to go there in my mind. I remember in snapshots, and I still have a whole album of those awful images. And they are as clear as can be. Time heals a lot of wounds. Anniversaries of impossibly hard days open those wounds back up again.
I'm told that he would remember nothing of it, and I believe that to be true. Maybe that's just because I want to believe it. Now, what he remembers is the playroom. And the Drexel Dragon. I'm thankful for that.
I wish I knew how to process what he went through - what we went through. I wish I understood miracles and why they happen sometimes. And why were were blessed with one. I won't pretend it's because I have some great faith or that I somehow deserve one. I wish that by telling our story, it made more sense to me. It doesn't. This world is full of chaos, and sometimes things just don't make sense. I wish that I could put into words the rainbow of emotions that I've felt this week. Anxiety, relief, gratitude, frustration, sadness, and joy - all wrapped up like a rubber band ball, tangled into layers. It's too much to understand, too much to describe.
Holding that sweet boy for the first time in weeks.
The last scar-free pic of his little chest - no wonder he woke up wanting to go swimming!
One step in the OT/PT/Speech journey back to where he is today
I cannot express how much the support of family, friends, church, and internet strangers meant to me during those first awful days and the long weeks that followed.
I am incredibly grateful for the way that you buoyed our spirits, cared for our physical needs, made sure we knew we were loved. I am incredibly grateful for the exceptional care we received at CHOP. But most of all, I'm incredibly grateful that we brought home a perfectly healthy, perfectly happy, perfectly perfect little boy. It is nothing short of a miracle.